This World War II vintage cake — it’s egg- and dairy-free, reflecting the rationing of those times — is dark, moist, and delicious, despite being only about 138 calories per serving. Over the years, this has been one of King Arthur Flour’s most requested recipes. And, even though the “stir it all together in the pan” method is traditional, go ahead and stir everything together in a bowl, if that feels more comfortable.
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa or natural cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, cider or white
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
NOTE: Can sub 1.5 tsp baking powder for the baking soda and vinegar
NOTE2: Can sub lemon juice for the vinegar
1) Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ square or 9″ round pan that’s at least 2″ deep. If you don’t have a 2″-deep pan in either of those sizes, use a 9″ square pan.
2) Traditional method: Measure all the dry ingredients into the prepared pan. Blend the ingredients together thoroughly with a fork or whisk and scoop out three holes, or indentations. Pour the vanilla into the first hole, the vinegar into the second, and the vegetable oil into the third. Take the cup of water and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Stir all the ingredients together with your fork until well blended.
3) Updated method: Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk the vanilla, vinegar, vegetable oil, and water in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
4) Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
5) Serve the cake right from the pan; warm from the oven, it’s wonderful with a big glass of milk.
6) Or, once cool, frost the cake with this simple chocolate frosting: Heat 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips with 1/2 cup half & half (or 1/3 c water or 1/3 c coffee) until the chips melt. Stir until smooth, and pour/spread over the cake.
Yield: about 16 servings.
Tips from our bakers
While the original, non-dairy version of this recipe calls for water as the liquid, feel free to substitute milk, for a slightly richer cake. Or try cold coffee, for a mocha version; or even 3/4 cup water mixed with 1/4 cup rum, for an “adults only” cake!
NOTE: You can sub out the oil with applesauce and the cake works out fine.